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The Principle of Faithful Obedience


Lesson #35

  • Memory Verse: Rom 6:16
  • This chapter contains a contrast between those who are obedient to their fathers and those who are not. The drama is played out by using a specific family as an illustration of faithful obedience.
    • In past chapters Jeremiah has tried to frighten the Israelites into repentance by telling them the awful consequence of their continual disobedience to God. They have not listened.
    • Now Jeremiah will try to shame them into repentance in chapter 35.
  • Read Jer 35:1-19
    • The Rechabite family history:
      • They were first called Kenites in 1Chr 2:55.
        • They descended from Moses’ father-in-law (Jdg 1:16 Jdg 4:17 1Sam 15:6)
        • They were known for their wisdom and piety.
      • After the division of the 12 tribes of Israel, this family descended from Rechab in the tribe of Benjamin. His name means “companionship”.
        • Rechab was a military leader under King Saul during the time when David fled from King Saul’s persecution. (2Sam 4:2, 5-9)
        • Rechab and his brother killed Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, to favor David’s ascension to the throne according to the will of God.
      • This family had a history of siding with God and those that did God’s will. (2Kin 10:15) The patriarch of the Rechabite family was Jonadab (Jehonadab). His name means “Jehovah is liberal”.
        • As the patriarch of the family, he forbade his descendants and followers from drinking wine and living in houses. (2Kin 15:23)
        • These prohibitions were made 300 years before Jeremiah’s time. This family had kept these prohibitions all that time.
        • Rechab made these prohibitions to keep his family pure and focused on the Lord.
    • Read 2Kin 24:1-2 In Jeremiah’s day:
      • Remember that King Jehoiakim was put on the throne in Judah by Babylon. However, later King Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon which brought retaliation in the form of a siege against the city of Jerusalem.
      • This is the time period of chapter 35.
    • The Rechabite prohibitions:
      • The Rechabite prohibitions followed the Nazarite vow in part.
      • Read Num 6:1-12 The Nazarite Vow
      • What does Nazarite (or Nazirite) mean?
        • The word means = to separate, consecrate, or abstain. It is not the same word as “Nazarene” which was a person from the geographical city of Nazareth.
        • This was a voluntary vow. It was not commanded by God that a person take this vow. This vow was for any man or woman who decided that he or she wanted a closer walk with God. There were two types of Nazarite vows, dealing with the length of the vow.
      • A person could take the Nazarite vow for a limited period of time. Paul took a temporary Nazarite vow in Acts 18:18.
      • A person could take the Nazarite vow for a lifetime. Of course, it was the parents that decided the lifetime vow for a child. There were only 3 men in the Bible who were Nazarite’s under this vow for a lifetime.
        • Samson (Jdg 16:17)
          • You will recall that Samson was a failure regarding this vow.
          • He touched a dead lion (Jdg 14:5-6) and his hair was cut by Delilah (Jdg 16:19)
        • Samuel (1Sam 1:21)
        • John the Baptist (Luk 1:14-15)
      • The conditions of the Nazarite vow:
        • A person taking the vow, whether for a limited time or for a lifetime, must follow the same three conditions:
          • He must not drink wine, vinegar, or any kind of strong drink made with grapes.
          • He must not cut his hair during the period of his vow.
          • He must not touch any dead thing.
        • The reasons for these prohibitions and their meanings:
          • No wine

Wine in the Bible is a symbol for earthly joy. A person who wants to have a closer walk with the Lord must give up earthly joys. The Lord must be the joy of your life. Remember that the filling of the Holy Spirit is contrasted with being drunk with wine. (Act 2:13-17) It is the joy of the Holy Spirit that should fill the Christian’s life.

Does that mean the Christian must never drink wine or liquor? No. It does not mean that.

-Remember Jesus turned water to wine at a wedding. (Joh 2:7-9)

-Remember that Paul recommended a little wine to Timothy for his stomach ailment. (1Tim 5:23)

However, the Christian must not be a drunkard. (Eph 5:18) and the Christian must not drink wine in front of a brother who has a problem with alcohol. (Rom 14:21)

The purpose of this prohibition is to emphasize the importance of a person’s source of joy in your life. The source of your joy will determine how close a walk you have with the Lord.

          • No hair cut

Paul says that a man having long hair is a shame because it is against the nature of a man to have long hair. (1Cor 11:14)

Therefore, if a man had long hair it was an indication that he was willing to bear shame for the Lord.

The purpose of the prohibition is to emphasize a person’s determination to follow the Lord even when it is not popular despite ridicule and persecution. (Rom 1:16 1Tim 4:10 Heb 11:26)

          • No contact with death

Death is the condition of this world. Everything and everyone in this world eventually will die. Only those who belong to Jesus have true eternal life.

The purpose of this prohibition was to emphasize the difference between believers and non-believers, the separation of the Christian from worldliness. (2Cor 6:17) The closer you walk with the Lord, the more your life is a testimony to eternal life.

      • The Rechabite prohibition from living in houses.
        • This prohibition from living in houses was not a part of the Nazarite vow.
        • The people were supposed to live in tents and not build permanent houses.
        • This type of lifestyle was to teach the people that…
          • …this world is not their home. Our eternal home is in eternity with God.
          • …the nomadic life is not easy but requires humility and an ability to go through hardship without depending on the comforts of this world system.
          • …they must not get encumbered with the things of the world.
    • Jeremiah’s message: The Trial of the Rechabites
      • The Rechabites had kept for centuries their vow not to drink wine.
      • However, they had broken their vow not to live in houses. (2) They had moved into houses in Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day.
      • Jeremiah initiates a trial of the Rechabites in the temple. He tempts them with an over abundance of wine in the temple. Why?
        • These people for centuries had never broken that part of the vow regarding wine.
        • Jeremiah reminds them that they broke the vow about living in houses.
          • Their reason for breaking that vow was for safety from the Babylonians. (11)
          • God excused them from this part of the vow expediently. In other words, the breaking of this part of the vow was not out of rebellion but self-preservation. Notice that they said they kept the spirit of both parts of the vow. (8-9)

It is not the literal outward keeping of legalistic laws that is important to God. The Jews were good at that.

It is the keeping of God’s principles in spirit that is important to God.

      • Because the Rechabites refused to drink the wine in the temple, Jeremiah uses them as an example to the rest of Israel of faithful obedience to God’s principles.
        • Jeremiah says to the rest of the Israelites, “Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words?” (13)
        • Israel’s lack of faithful obedience to God is Jeremiah’s message through the whole book.
    • God’s promised reward to the Rechabite family (18-19)
      • To shame the rest of the Israelites, Jeremiah promises the Rechabite family a reward for their steadfast faithfulness to obedience to God’s principles.
      • This family will always have a descendant that has a personal relationship with God as a testimony to what it means to stand up for God.
  • Application:
    • What is the meaning of the Rechabite vow and the Nazarite vow to the Christian?
      • Jeremiah told the Rechabites that they kept “all his precepts” (18)
        • What are precepts?
          • The definition of the word precept is = any authoritative command regarding moral conduct.
          • In other words, the Rechabites understood the moral concept behind the prohibition to live in houses.
        • When you get to know God and His intentions, you know His reasons for certain prohibitions. Those are the principles by which the Christian lives his life in faithful obedience to God.
      • In the Christian life, we do not take these kinds of formal, legalistic vows such as the Nazarite vow or the vow of the Rechabites.
      • Instead, the life of the committed Christian, should be based on the following principles from the Nazarite vow:
        • The joy of the believer is in the presence of the Lord, in the fellowship of other believes, and in the activities pleasing to God.
        • The believer must be willing to bear persecution and ridicule for his testimony of faithfulness to God.
        • The believer must maintain a willingness to be separate from worldliness so as to feed his spirit and not the lusts of his flesh.
      • Because, from the Rechabites, this world is not our eternal home.

Jeremiah 36

  • Application of Jer 35
    • Do you tend to live your Christian life by keeping a list of rules and regulations of dos and don’ts?
    • Christ would have you live in freedom by faith following principles. What does that mean to you?
  • Preparation for Jer 36
    • Read Jer 36:1-32
      • How did the king respond to the reading of the Word of God?
      • Why is the memory verse important to this lesson?
  • Memory Verse: Isa 55:11
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About Joyce

I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1963 giving my heart to Jesus in a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, CA. I have been teaching the Word of God since 1964, Usually two to three adult classes a week.

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